Family-friendly hotel review: Amari Galle, Sri Lanka
Get off the beaten track and head to Amari Galle Sri Lanka with the family these upcoming December holidays!
A family getaway is always welcome when you have kids and feel trapped in the weekly work-school routine.
So I was absolutely delighted to head to Amari Galle in the exotic, tear drop-shaped island of Sri Lanka, to spend a weekend there and review just how family-friendly this luxury hotel is, along with my two little and very tough critics, ages 5 and 7!
Sri Lanka is repeatedly emerging on global travel lists as an amazing, new destination for families.
Just a 3.5-hour flight from Singapore, this little island rich in culture, history and natural beauty, is a must-consider option for the upcoming December holidays.
Amari Galle is situated along the beautiful Southern coast of the island, and it will take you around 1.5 hours to get there from the capital Colombo via the Southern expressway.
If you’re feeling adventurous and have more time to kill, then you could try getting there on the ‘old road’ which was the only way to the South of the island before the expressway was built.
Though the trip on this route is certainly not as fast or convenient as the expressway drive, it is dotted with interesting stops that you and the kids will love – from gorgeous antique and jewellery shops, to a turtle hatchery where the kids can get up, close and personal with baby turtles before they are released back to the wild.
Location and first impressions
Amari Galle is a newcomer to the vibrant hospitality scene in Sri Lanka, and is run by ONYX Hospitality Group.
This luxury hotel is situated on a gorgeous little strip of pristine beach, fringed with tall coconut palms.
As you walk in, you enter a beautiful open lobby. You see the blue waters of the Indian Ocean stretching ahead of you as far as the eye can see and you fill your lungs with clean air, filtered by the ocean.
You walk ahead a bit faster to catch more of this stunning view and as you look down, you see the brighter blue of an inviting swimming pool (yes, there’s a kiddie pool too), shady lounge beds, and a bar, literally just arms’ distance from the pool.
The Kids Club
So one of the first things I always check out before booking a hotel stay for the family, is if they have a Kids’ Club.
Amari Galle doesn’t disappoint. They have a well-equipped Kids’ Club with plenty of activities to keep the little ones occupied for a couple of hours, while mum and dad grab a well-earned drink by the beach or head to the spa.
I was told that there are plans to expand the Kids’ Club even further, with a safe and secure outdoor play area and activities by the beach for the children.
A baby-sitting service is also provided if needed.
The Voyager Lounge
When you are travelling with kids and arriving from another country, sometimes, you can’t always plan your arrival to the hotel in keeping with check-in times (even if you ask for early check-in).
I know how annoying this can be because how do you keep one or two (or more) hungry and tired kids calm if you get to the hotel early?
Amari Galle has the solution to this unique parent problem with a very comfortable transit lounge – the Voyager Lounge.
So, if you get to the hotel early with the family, you can grab a coffee and a snack from the breakfast counter at the Voyager Lounge, and even take a shower. Then, you can relax in this very comfortable space until check-in time.
As with most areas in the hotel, the Lounge also has a stunning view of the ocean.
We had breakfast each day and dined one night at the Ahara Gourmet Gallery. We thought the food was excellent here.
The breakfast buffet has plenty of options to keep fussy little eaters happy – included a good selection of delectable pastries, pancakes, cereal, plenty of fresh fruit and yoghurt, an egg station that makes super-fluffy omelettes, western, and local breakfast options (try stringhoppers and bright green kola kanda, or herbal porridge!).
The night we had dinner there, my boys pigged out on yummy creamy carbonara, and ice-cream afterwards. We especially enjoyed the food from their Thai corner. They also had a good selection of really tasty desserts.
While there’s not a huge selection to choose from in the buffet (breakfast and dinner), what is presented is delicious with well-balanced flavours. All tastes are catered too as well, whether you prefer western or eastern cuisine.
We could not drag our kids away from the pool! With a gorgeous view of the ocean and the Shoreline Beach Club at close quarters, what more could you ask for?
The hotel has a small, private beach area that is very safe for kids to frolic around on and build sandcastles.
They’ve even constructed a little bay area so the waves that hit the shore are gentle. But as always with kids, it’s best to keep a close eye on them even on the safest beach.
Owing to the way the hotel has been designed, all the rooms have a gorgeous view of the ocean. We stayed in a Deluxe Ocean View room.
The room was huge – plenty of room for a family of four (or more!). The boys were greeted by a huge cookie which they got to decorate all by themselves, and then of course, eat it!
We did have an extra bed put in for the boys, because even though we do co-sleep, it’s nice to for hubby and I to have a bed to ourselves when we go out on holiday! But if you do prefer to bunk in together, the king-sized bed has more than enough room for four.
The bathroom was spacious and clean with ‘his’ and ‘hers’ sinks and a tub if you prefer a nice, long soak.
I was treated to the most relaxing full body massage at the Breeze Spa. The skillful fingers of the masseuse coaxed out aches and pains I never knew I had and replaced them with pure bliss.
They also have a couples massage package, so if that’s your idea of heaven, drop the kids at the Kids Club and head down here pronto!
You can check out the packages they have to offer here.
Bommu Rooftop Bar
This is the perfect place to catch the glorious sunsets that are part and parcel of the southern coast of Sri Lanka.
My suggestion – head here early (around 5pm) after a relaxing massage and sip on a carefully concocted cocktail while you watch the sun set with hubby. The Kids’ Club is open until 6pm (hint, hint) so use this time wisely!
Out and about in Galle
Amari Galle is just about a 10 minute drive to the magnificent and historic Galle Fort area. The fort was built by Portuguese colonists in the 16th century and is a hive of activity at any given time of the day. It is also listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Here, you can take stroll along the ramparts at sunset along with fellow tourists and locals, get your horoscope told by a fortune teller while you’re there, snap some totally Insta-worthy pictures, and then when the sun sets, meander down to inside the fort where cobblestoned roads take you on a little adventure to some seriously good restaurants, bars, cafes and shops.
More good dining options are available in the Dutch Hospital area. And yes, it used to be a hospital built by the Dutch, but now, this gorgeous old building has been renovated and has quite a few good dining options.
You can also check out the gorgeous Japanese Peace Temple in Rumassala, which is about a 15 minute drive from the Galle Fort area.
Whale and dolphin watching tours are also available, with the waters around here being home to several species of whales, including the majestic Blue Whale.
Tips for parents
- The climate in Sri Lanka is very similar to that in Singapore. Similarly, there are wet and dry seasons. Bring hats for the kids and yourself, sunscreen and mosquito repellent, as well as a first-aid bag. November to around January is peak tourist season, and this is when the weather is at its best.
- Sri Lankans in general love kids, and will go out of their way to make sure your family is comfortable. You can expect a good level of English by staff in all good restaurants and hotels.
- Tap water is generally not considered safe to drink, but I have no issues giving my kids boiled and cooled tap water. Otherwise bottled water is freely available.
- Sri Lanka has a diverse range of food that you will love! Spices are used liberally and a lot of the curries are coconut milk-based. Most good restaurants have kid-friendly menu options. Western food and other Asian cuisines are available in Colombo and Galle.
- As in any country, when travelling with kids, be aware of their safety and never let them wander off on their own.
- Singaporeans can travel to Sri Lanka without a visa.
- Insider tip: Noritake Ceramics are made in Sri Lanka! Stock up on gorgeous tablewear for great prices at their factory outlet in Colombo.
Mums and dads, at the end of our stay at Amari Galle, my kids were pestering me, (a) to not leave, and (b) to come back really soon! This in my opinion as a parent, is a sign of a good kid-friendly hotel!
To check flights and compare prices from Singapore to Sri Lanka, click here.